How to Bet the Welterweight Title: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson
Premier Boxing Champions
After a resurgent 2017, boxing’s first big night of 2018 is here as Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) takes on Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) for the IBF Welterweight Title at Barclays Center on Saturday night.
On paper, the fight has a familiar narrative. Spence is the entering-his-prime virtuoso taking on a veteran gatekeeper who is hoping to score a famous win in the twilight of an impressive, albeit not headline-making, career.
This fight is designed to tell us a lot about Spence. The Long Island-born, Texas-raised southpaw is an electrifying talent who has said and done all the right things during his rise.
But while this could very well be Errol Spence’s year, he’s got to pass a tricky test in the form of Peterson.
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. has it all as a fighter. He’s a complete boxer with power, pace and volume. He’s got a more diverse arsenal than just about anyone in the sport and is the best welterweight on the planet right now.
According to CompuBox, Spence has landed 46.6% of his power punches and is averaging 7.3 jabs per round. If you’re landing nearly half of your power punches, you won’t have much trouble winning boxing matches. But it’s not just about how many power punches “The Truth” lands. It’s also about how he changes levels and works the body. The 27-year-old is considered one of the fight game’s most devastating body-punchers, giving his opponents another thing to worry about when they step toe-to-toe with him.
In his last fight, an impressive win over the always-game Kell Brook in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England back in May, Spence smothered, then overpowered”‘Special K” until the Englishman had to call it quits with a broken orbital bone. It was an impressive, “stepping into the spotlight” kind of victory for Spence, but the southpaw sat out the rest of 2017, causing a temporary pause in his rise to prominence.
Seven months after the most important win of his career, Spence is now facing another daunting challenge in Peterson, a man he’s sparred with and considers a friend outside of the ring — and who’s also a better fighter than Brook and one with more heart.
The pressure of this fight, as with all bouts of this nature, resides solely on the shoulders of Spence. Of the two combatants, he is the one with it all to lose and after the long layoff, and he’ll want to remind everyone why they are so high on him.
Lamont “Havoc” Peterson, despite being a huge underdog, is no walkover. He is a savvy boxer whose unpredictability and ability to fight a bunch of different styles can present a problem for his opponents. “Havoc” uses speed and slippery movements to frustrate opponents who want to stalk him around the ring.
Fighting high-level opponents isn’t anything new for Peterson. He’s faced the likes of Timothy Bradley (L), Victor Ortiz (D) Amir Khan (W), Danny Garcia (L), Lucas Matthysse (L) and Felix Diaz (W) in his career.
A 2-3-1 record against top opponents may not seem impressive, but of those three losses only the powerful Mathysse was able to overwhelm Peterson. Even in his losses, Peterson has shown enough resiliency and tenacity to hang with the best fighters in the world.
At the age of 10, Peterson and his younger brother, Anthony, were without a home and spent their nights breaking into cars to find a place to sleep. Eventually, the two Peterson brothers were taken in by Barry Hunter, who still corners “Havoc” to this day.
Peterson has only fought once — a unanimous decision victory over David Avanesyan in February — in the last two years, so there will be talk of ring rust, but “Havoc” is noted for his conditioning, and it’s hard to believe that fitness will be an issue for him.
As expected Spence comes into this bout as a gigantic favorite. At the time of publication, he’s listed at -4000 (97.6% implied probability) at BetOnline, with Peterson coming back as a +1500 (6.25% implied probability) underdog.
The over/under is set at 9.5 rounds, with the under juiced at -150 and the over being offered at +120.
Path to victory
Spence will be the hunter, a heat-seeking southpaw looking to do damage at every opportunity in this fight. He will look to overwhelm his buddy and former sparring mate with power and volume from the start. Spence wants this to be the fight where he truly introduces himself to the world. As such, he will need to close this show impressively to set himself up for the “Year of Errol.” With the power and size advantage so clearly in his favor, Spence should have no reservations about coming forward and cutting off the ring from the opening bell. If Spence does have issues catching up to the quick Peterson, he can adjust by working the body to slow down “Havoc” until he’s able to catch up with him.
For Peterson, the most viable roadmap to glory is to use the one thing that he’s got over Spence ring experience — to his advantage. He’s fought every type of fighter in his career and is a savvy dude who will be able to adjust to Spence’s style. Peterson will need to frustrate Spence with slips and speed, setting up counter opportunities, in order to win. He’s as an awkward a fighter as they come, and that could be what keeps him in the fight. “Havoc” likely doesn’t have the power to put the rising champion on the floor, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hurt him and give him something to think about the next time he tries to come forward.
Errol Spence Jr. is a deserved big favorite in this fight but a -4000 price tag is incredibly offputting. On the other end, taking a punt on a savvy guy like Peterson at +1500 may seem tempting, but he wins this fight maybe five times out of 100, so there’s not much in that number either.
Although there is no value in backing a fighter in this one, we can look to the over/under for a way in. At -150, there’s value on the under. Peterson is going to have to weather one hell of a storm, and for him to get past the eighth round would be a surprise. Sure, he can give Spence fits with his unorthodox style, but Spence has already shown an ability to stay on course when things go a bit sideways in the ring. Peterson is a tough guy to count out of any fight, but Spence’s powerful left hand should wear him down enough over the first six rounds to set up a show-closer before we get through the halfway point of Round 10. Lay the 50 cents with the under 9.5.
Boxing record: 6-2-1, +16.05 units
All odds courtesy of BetOnline at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 19
Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions